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Monday, January 10, 2011

Tragedy in Tucson

Last Saturday, a disturbed 22 year old Jared Loughner attempted to assassinate US Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords in a supermarket parking lot where she was meeting with constituents. Six were killed including a Federal District Judge, a US Marshall and a 9 year old girl. Giffords was shot in the temple and survives in a coma after surgery. Twelve other bystanders were injured in the attack.

This morning at work, a coworker from a European country where citizens are forbidden to own firearms smugly made an insensitive comment to me about how us Americans are somewhat barbaric to settle our differences with guns. I realize the majority of countries in the world forbid the private ownership of firearms and a lot of folks consider our Constitutional 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms a relic of the old Wild West and was responsible for the recent rampage. Nothing can be further from the truth!

For example, I notice there are a lot of  IED bomb explosions in places that forbid firearms. Some groups have even used occupied and fuel-laden civilian airliners as a tool to express their opinions in my own country. My point is that a mentally unbalanced individual and/or group will find a way to cause mayhem with whatever is available. No guns,  make a bomb.... no bomb, poison sarin gas will do.... no poison, hijack some airliners, ad infinitum. Blaming the tool is missing the point. Do you ban automobiles because bad drivers regularly kill innocent others?

Back home, I own several firearms, some pistols, an SKS semiautomatic rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun, all legal. I purchased my first rifle at 12 years old and learned from my dad how to handle and respect their power. I am a sportsman/target shooter like the vast majority of gun owners in the US. I find it an enjoyable skill as well as a useful home defense against the bad guys if necessary.

There are millions of responsible gun owners in the US. Purchase and ownership is not extended to felons or those who don't pass a background check. Unfortunately, there will be some weapons that fall into the hands of the criminals and crazies. Ironically, the areas with the strictest sanctions against legal firearm ownership have the highest crime rates. Washington DC comes to mind. If the bad guys know their intended victim is likely to be unarmed, they will be emboldened. If guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns that are obtained illegally.

A free society with generous rights bestowed upon the citizens is inherently more risky than a totalitarian state as some of those citizens are free to make bad decisions. There is a natural trade-off between freedom and security. Personally, I prefer more freedom and will take my chances with that rather than exist under a "Nanny State" that promises total safety. I am responsible for my own welfare and I resent those that say they know better what's good for me.

Mr.Loughner is one of those fringe, unstable people that make-up a small percentage of any population. He would have tried to kill Gabriel Giffords anyway with a hammer, baseball bat or an IED bomb if he could not have obtained a gun, such was the intensity of whatever demons he had. There are bad apples everywhere. Don't judge American society (and the vast majority of gun owners) on the actions of a lone lunatic.

My deepest sympathies to those innocents killed and injured in this horrible tragedy and I hope justice is swift and sure for the perpetrator(s).

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolute redneck rubbish!

Compare the per capita deaths/maiming in the U.S. caused by guns in Canada, Britain, Australia etc. and it's obvious how crazy and anachronistic this 'right to bear arms' really is.

Whilst we're at it, how about comparing the prison population of the U.S. with other Western countries. 'Land of the Free' eh? What a joke!

الإماراتي دوت كوم said...

White guy does it, he's disturbed. Anyone else did it, he's a crazy, loon, projects kid, or al qaida.

as for guns causing deaths. I dont agree with that either. Stupid people kill people, guns dont. Best example is right here in the UAE. We can own guns, very very very few gun related crimes.

Im willing to bet that in any city anywhere, more deaths are caused by knives or bats/sticks/blunt objects than guns.

Shall we outlaw knives? gonna cut that steak with a spork?

Just as stupid as the loons that cry "Speed kills"

Susan said...

The thing is, if he'd used a baseball bat or even a machete he would have been unlikely to take out 6 other lives in his rampage.

Ace said...

Anon: You have your culture, I have mine, apples and oranges. You failed to mention the fact that all the countries you mentioned+New Zealand have higher rates per capita of violent crime than the US. Peruse this site for a few minutes:

http://www.nationmaster.com/cat/cri-crime

Prison populations are high in the US because that is what the citizens want. Crime spiked in 1975 and the people got fed up. It is the result of an elected judiciary and juries of peers. Folks are not just rounded up and incarcerated without cause and full protection of law. Perps are convicted via random juries, not the government. Hell, they are even give free attorneys at taxpayer expense.

In the US, many gun injuries and deaths are between gangs with illegal weapons, not the regular guy. Drugs are usually involved.

Statistics show that violent crime has increased in Britain while incarceration rates declined. The opposite happened in the US.

Unfortunately, this Redneck has come to expect such Pecksniffian attitudes from elitist Euro trash such as yourself, that is what motivated me to write the blog submission. I have heard it all before from you blowhards.

How smart is it to disarm law abiding, sane citizens which leaves the sole possession of firearms to the psychos, chavs and criminals. The British 2012 Olympic Marksman team even has to practice outside the country because pistols are not allowed in the UK.

It isn't a hardware problem, it is a people problem.

To the other commenter: I agree with everything you say except for your first paragraph. In the US if a "white" guy shoots "anyone else" it is considered a hate crime with stricter penalties, in an obverse situation, the hate crime bonus sentence usually doesn't apply even though the latter is much more common. Just the facts.

Like I said, free societies inherently involve a measure of risk.

Ace said...

Susan,

I appreciate your rebuttal, but in the part of the world where I live, improvised explosive devices are used instead of firearms as the weapon of choice. These are much more deadly than pistols which are highly regulated around here. Seems the IEDs are deployed every other month in neighboring countries killing hundreds, yet handguns are illegal.

My point is that if Lougher wanted bad enough to kill someone he would have found a way. If no guns were available, he could have driven a Chevy pickup truck through the crowd with worse results. Do we ban Chevy pickup trucks then?

Again, it is a people not a hardware problem. Why punish millions of legal, safe gun owners by passing laws restricting their constitutional rights because of what a psycho chose to kill with.

Guns, like fire can be used for good or can be destructive. It is up to the individual in control. It is easy to call for a gun ban but beware of the unintended consequences of good intentions.

Chuck said...

While there was much to be derided about the 1994 Assault Weapons law, I did think the magazine limit seemed reasonable. That is not to say that it was impossible to get larger clips (pre-ban manufactured or whatever) during the period the ban was in effect, but having a 32 round clip on a 9 MM pistol strikes me as a bit...excessive? Anyhow I am sure Lougher would have still managed to kill people with or without a ten-round clip limit, he might just have been slowed down enough while reloading for someone to tackle him and limit the carnage.